8 Things They Don’t Tell You About Adopting A Rescue Dog

Welcome to another free dog training blog from Jarvis Dog Whisperer. This month we’re talking about what they don’t tell you about adopting a rescue dog.

When does correctly, rehoming a dog from a shelter is a fantastic experience that will change your life for the better. However like all dog ownership there is a right and wrong way to go about it.

This month’s blog is here to help you feel 100% mentally and physically prepared for what to expect about rescue dog adoption.


1. Your family dynamic will change

Rescue dogs can be the greatest friend you’ll ever have. We are no strangers to them ourselves.

Our late Westie (Pablo AKA “Doggy”) was a textbook abandonment case with every behavioural problem under the sun. We resolved all of his issues within the first 18 months of owning him and he blossomed for 12 happy years. He was our missing piece of the jigsaw and I know many of you reading this will be hoping to find your missing piece too.

With that missing piece comes a whole new chapter of life. In other words, pet dogs completely change a family dynamic – regardless of where they have come from.

Just like a new baby or spouse, it’s a gargantuan commitment and will change your life forever. This can go one of two ways.

We want your journey to go as smoothly as possible. Let’s look at the more taboo areas of rescue dog adoption and how you can make informed choices.

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2. Some adoptions fail

Even with the best intentions, some dog families fail. That’s life.

A large proportion of the rescue dogs you see on online and in rescue centres are there because the original owner could not cope. There are all kinds of reasons behind this, rehoming a dog but for a lot of dogs they needed more training, time, money and energy than their owners thought possible.

Have you noticed that noone talks publicly about their problem dogs or behavioural issues? Yet we all know someone with a neurotic, chaotic or difficult dog.

The rise of social media in particular has a dastardly way of seducing future dog owners into thinking ownership will be a literal walk in the park.

Endless reels and YouTube videos make rescue dogs look as though all you need is love. They are often depicted as naturally gentle, good with kids, funny, easy-going and spectacularly healed by a secure and loving home.

The reality is that a lot of rescue dogs need time, patience by the bucket load and consistent training from day one.

How can you give your rescue dog the best chance of succeeding in their new home? Think carefully about the lifestyle you want the dog to fit into.

Before you go off the idea of a rescue dog remember this – knowledge is power. The more you know about dog breeds, behaviour, training methods and your own skills as a handler, the better the transition can be. Educate yourself in dog matchmaking. Read books, read blogs but most of all, be ready to learn.



3. Fostering can be a safety net

Fostering a rescue dog is a fantastic way to get to know an animal before signing up permanently.

Don’t be seduced by breed type or looks alone. The extraordinary mental capabilities of dogs tend to be the rug that is unexpectedly pulled out from under new owners. All dogs are smart, but really smart dogs are a force to be reckoned with.

Fostering gives you a fantastic opportunity to understand your own ability as a handler as well as the match between you and the dog.

The best dog rescue organisations will be keen to ensure the perfect fit and will want to remove a dog that doesn’t work out. The animal’s welfare will always comes first. Bear in mind this is not a green flag to try out as many dogs as you want – each placement costs money, blood, sweat and tears of rescue workers.

Do not mess them around! They still need to rehome dogs with efficiency wherever possible.

4. Dog rescue centres are not licensed

Red tape is a blessing and a curse.

Dog rescue charities that operate through financial donations alone, are not legally required to obtain a license for animal boarding. They are not inspected or regulated.

Most dog rescue charities are run by volunteers with an extraordinary passion for animals. Many of which will have decades of experience, qualifications in animal care and can skilfully match a dog to your situation. It also means that there could be a few bad apples out there. Stay vigilant when researching rescue centres.

Good rescues will be able to talk you through DEFRA welfare standards of boarding and care. They are not legally bound to regulations like other businesses such as licensed kennels, home boarders or doggy day care centres.

There are many fantastic organisations out there, but the downside is that a lack of regulation equates to unreliable, and possibly dangerous practices operating under the radar. Many hopeful adopters will never know this as they navigate the “system”.

Do your homework and look for reviews, personal accounts of the adoption process, speak with foster carers and ask about terms and conditions that will protect everyone involved in the adoption process.

5. Will there be post-adoption support?

What should you do if things go south? Will there be help if the dog starts presenting problem behaviours?

UK dog rescue charities tend to be good at providing help or at least pointing owners towards trainers they know personally. It’s not uncommon for some owners to discover that once the dog has been handed over to them, contact with the rescuers goes dead.

Bear in mind foreign dog shelters rarely take the dog back should you struggle to get on at home. Ask their policies on behavioural advice and post-adoption support before adopting.

6. Is your chosen dog a teenager?

Dogs are not fully adults until they are about 2 years old. That’s a long time to physically and psychologically mature. They look so grown up by 8 months old, it’s easy to forget they’re still learning.

We tend to believe that once a dog reaches their first birthday that training can relax and they dog is “grown up”. In reality many dogs go through emotional and hormonal changes beyond 12 months. Neutering and spaying early can also impacts development.

Teenage life as a dog can throw up fear phases, relapses in training, changes in socialisation or even run of the mill “errors” in dog training. We all go through them, even professional dog trainers.

Seasoned dog owners and sports-dog fanatics will agree, the teen phase is the most testing time when you own a dog – if that dog is also overcoming pain, sickness, abuse or simply learning to live in a family home it may feel very challenging.

7. Sudden behavioural issues

Rescue dogs need at least 3 months to settle into their new homes. During this period, some owners find that reactivity, fear-based issues or nuisance barking rear their ugly heads. Loving adopters can find themselves wondering why on earth their perfect dog has suddenly changed out of the blue 8 weeks into family life.

Dogs are subtle animals and will give tiny signals through their body language for a long time before push comes to shove. Humans often miss these signals and continue on their merry way until disaster strikes or a negative pattern of behaviour begins to emerge.

The dog may have found it’s feet and could be testing the waters. They could be experiencing emotional relapses, surges in hormones, environmental triggers, PTSD symptoms, teen phases, secondary fear or overwhelm. Diagnosing the issue will be down to getting in touch with a skilled behaviourist.



8. Rescue dogs aren’t a “cheap” option

Dogs cost a lot more money today than they did 30 years ago. If you’re looking to save money, get a hamster.

Rescue dogs are no longer considered a “cheap”option. What you may save in adoption fees you could well be spending on training, diet, 6ft fencing or medical bills. Call it financial swings and roundabouts.

We all have to roll the dice here so make sure you’ve got some cash set aside for a rainy day.

Of course our beloved pets are worth every penny, but it’s best to make sure you have finances in place to make sure it’s affordable and enjoyable instead of financially crippling in the long run.

Health insurance for dogs is an absolute must so do your homework for a deal that covers all eventualities. comparethemarket.com



9. Still need help?

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8 Things They Don’t Tell You About Adopting A Rescue Dog
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